New technologies, data and processes are revolutionizing how we make and move products across the globe. Conexus Indiana is invested in ensuring Indiana remains competitive and retains its leadership position in the industries we represent. We are focused on developing pathways for the advanced manufacturing and logistics sectors to experience digital transformation and fostering an environment for new innovative businesses and partnerships. Here are three ways we’ve recently accelerated our Industry 4.0 mission, and what we plan for the future.

Peer-to-Peer Platform

In December 2019, Conexus Indiana hosted its first Peer-to-Peer forum on the theme of additive manufacturing. The goal of the Peer-to-Peer platform is to create forums for Indiana manufacturers and logistics companies to share knowledge and best practices about advanced technology themes they have utilized or are interested in learning about. Ultimately, these conversations will facilitate greater adoption of advanced technologies by allowing a variety of stakeholders to learn about technology among engaged and informed peers.

During the first Peer-to-Peer forum, a group of attendees representing five organizations participated in a conversation hosted by manufacturer Freudenberg-NOK Sealing Technologies. The conversation opened with Freudenberg’s recent purchase of a 3D printer for prototyping purposes and their interest in exploring 3D printing as a resource for tool making.

The discussion covered a broad scope and scale of additive related considerations including the following:

  • Complex products (i.e., high component count) with a long service life can pose a challenge with component suppliers not being around long enough to support 20-25 years of product lifespan. Additive can address some of these “no source parts”.
  • Global operations in remote locations often do not have a robust ecosystem of 3rd party services and supply chain. Additive can be a way to address these constraints.
  • Additive techniques allow for fixtures, jigs, and other production aids to be developed, innovated and iterated upon efficiently in collaboration with the production operators who ultimately make use of them. This is ideal for situations that require custom or special-use hardware (e.g., when a production process is tailored for a customer).
  • Additive can cut the iteration time and the cost in situations where multiple design variations need to be physically tested. This is especially true when there is not enough time to serially develop tooling one at a time and it’s hard to justify full development of multiple variations in parallel when you know that that most will be discarded as non-viable.

A summary report of the full discussion of this first Additive Peer-to-Peer forum is available here. The next Additive Peer-to-Peer forum event is scheduled for March 18th at a location in central Indiana. A second Peer-to-Peer forum on the theme of Process Intelligence using Data Analytics is forming with its first forum event scheduled for February 26th.

If you are interested in participating in either or both of the forums or want to hear more, please contact Mitch Landess at mlandess@conexusindiana.com.

Emerging Technology Showcase

In November 2019, Conexus hosted an Emerging Technology Showcase at Beck’s Hybrids in partnership with Agrinovus Indiana. During the showcase, Siera.AI, an Austin-based technology company demonstrated two applications of their product offerings in commercial pilot testing at the Beck’s site. The Siera offerings add autonomous functionality to material handling equipment (e.g., forklifts). The technology is an after-market add-on to existing equipment and uses sensors to halt vehicles from hitting obstructions, aiming to improve workplace safety.

For those who were unable to attend, this short video captures the highlights of the event well:

The goal of the showcase events is to build sector awareness of relevant technologies that are newly available and commercially ready. Stay tuned for more information about the next Emerging Technology Showcases coming up in 2020.

And if your organization is using (or piloting) a new technology that you think peers in the advanced manufacturing and logistics industries would be interested in learning about, please bring them to the attention of Mitch Landess at mlandess@conexusindiana.com.

Industry 4.0 Tech Adoption Survey

Finally, Conexus is undertaking a study of advanced technology adoption within Indiana’s advanced manufacturing and logistics sectors. The basis of that study is a survey titled Industry 4.0 Tech Adoption Survey, which is open for response until March 6. The goal is to identify trends in Industry 4.0 technology adoption in order to understand how digital transformation within these sectors in Indiana is progressing.

We anticipate utilizing the results to inform our activities this year and beyond, including how best to foster innovation and collaborative partnerships, and help companies understand what technologies exist and which to invest in. We will be sending the results of the survey to participants who provide their contact information at the end of the survey as a thank you for assisting us in this important work. Take the survey here: https://survey.ca1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_8wRJrkJSJWttkMd